KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Playing for the third time in five days, a young Tennessee team came out flat against Lipscomb on Thursday night in its final home game at Thompson-Boling Arena in 2016.
Fortunately for the Vols, freshman forward Grant Williams almost single-handily beasted the Bisons by himself, scoring a career-high 30 points in a 92-77 comeback win.
Senior guard Robert Hubbs III added 22 points and 9 boards, while no other Vol player scored in double figures.
Tennessee (6-4) quickly trailed by 14 points midway through the first half, as Lipscomb (4-9) was raining 3s against a lackadaisical defense. The Bisons opened the game on an 8-0 sprint before the Vols slowly chipped away at the deficit, taking their first lead at 23-21 on a trey by Detrick Mostella.
It didn’t last very long.
A flurry of 3-pointers by Lipscomb’s leading scoring Garrison Matthews allowed the Bisons to take a 58-49 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Vols upped their defensive pressure, quickly storming on a 17-2 run to take a 61-60 lead with an and-1 bucket by Williams.
They never trailed the rest of the game, pounding the ball inside and using a 17-0 run to turn a seesaw affair into a blowout.
Player of the game
Williams scored his 30 points — just his fourth-career game in double figures — on 10-of-12 shooting. He was also 10-for-13 from the charity stripe and added 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal.
Stat of the game
After shooting 62 percent in the first half — including hitting an absurd 11 shots from downtown — the Bisons shot just 25 percent in the second half, only knocking down a single 3 on 10 attempts.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, freshman forward John Fulkerson took a nasty shot on a hard charge from Lipscomb sophomore guard Shembari Phillips.
Tennessee’s freshman appeared to injury his arm and was immediately escorted to the locker room.
Fulkerson did not return to the game, and team officials said the forward would undergo tests Friday.
Down 58-43, the Vols closed out the first half on a 8-0 run. With 4.1 seconds remaining, Hubbs grabbed an offensive rebound, spun in the lane and hit a shot while getting fouled.
The senior finished the and-1, cutting the deficit to single-digits heading into halftime. The bucket gave the Vols some much-needed momentum heading into the second half.
What’s next for Tennessee basketball
The Vols return to action at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in the Battle on Broadway against No. 8 Gonzaga (10-0)
Tennessee basketball boxscore vs. Lipscomb